Al Ain: Wellington captain Justin Gulley heads back to work on a building site after missing a vital penalty against Al Ain in Wednesday’s Fifa Club World Cup opener.
The reality of his nine-to-five routine underlines just how big an achievement it was for this team of amateurs from New Zealand to even be here in the first place, let alone take a professional outfit 120 minutes and into penalties after drawing 3-3 in normal time. “I might call in and get a week off before Christmas and see what the boss says, but yeah for a lot of us, we do have to go straight back to work,” said the 25-year-old Kiwi defender, whose side lost 4-3 on kicks after his decisive penalty was saved.
“One of the boys is a painter, we’ve quite a few apprentice builders, some are coaching and one works in a hotel.
“We don’t have the luxury of earning millions of dollars like Al Ain do. It’s tough, working long days and training at night. We can’t train every day, twice a day, like the big pro clubs do.
“But to have taken them to penalties, they’re a multi-million dollar team, we’re just an amateur outfit, so the boys can be pretty proud of themselves. It’s a testament to what we have as a team and that shows on the field with the heart and courage we showed tonight.”
Of Al Ain, he said: “They definitely underestimated us. They’ve got three stadiums, we have one and it’s not even ours.
“This might have been a bit of a shock to them so I’m sure they will not take anyone lightly anymore. Losing Mohammad Abdul Rahman in midfield will be a massive blow for them,” he added of a late sending off for a second bookable offence for the midfielder. “But I’m sure they have got a lot of talent in that squad and will step it up and probably do well this tournament.”